Bri­tish r&b

The Small Faces pi­o­neered a new ‘heavy’ sound that would be adopted by blues-rock bands in­clud­ing The Who and Led Zep­pelin, says Phil Capone .

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Phil Capone ex­am­ines a band that was way ahead of its time - Steve Mar­riott’s Small Faces.

The Small Faces emerged onto a chang­ing lon­don mu­sic scene early in 1965, as both the Bri­tish blues boom and the mod scene were gain­ing mo­men­tum. The orig­i­nal line-up was: Steve mar­riott (lead vo­cal, gui­tar), Ron­nie lane (bass, vo­cals), Ken­ney Jones (drums), and Jimmy Win­ston (keys, vo­cals). The band toured the lon­don clubs, per­form­ing their own ver­sions of soul and R&B clas­sics by artists like James Brown, Ben e King, and Smokey Robin­son. mar­riott’s soul­ful voice, backed by the band’s sim­ple but ef­fec­tive grooves, proved to be an in­stant suc­cess on the emerg­ing mod scene. leg­endary manager Don ar­den signed the Small Faces to a man­age­ment con­tract, and a record­ing deal with Decca swiftly fol­lowed.

They re­leased their first sin­gle Watcha Gonna Do about It in the sum­mer of 65, which was an in­stant suc­cess, peak­ing at 14 in the UK. how­ever, their fol­low-up, I’ve Got mine, writ­ten by mar­riott and lane, failed to chart so the duo was forced to re­think its ap­proach - their de­but sin­gle was, af­ter all, based on a riff sim­i­lar to Solomon Burke’s clas­sic every­body Need’s Some­body To love. Once mar­riott and lane re­alised this the hits just kept on com­ing, in­clud­ing the chart-top­ping all Or Noth­ing.

mar­riott and lane’s tal­ent for writ­ing in­fec­tious pop songs aside, it’s the B-sides and al­bum cuts that de­fine the band as one of the driv­ing forces be­hind Bri­tish blues. mar­riott had one of the best blues voices out­side of amer­ica, his heart-wrench­ing vo­cal style never sounded ‘af­fected’ or gim­micky, just to­tally au­then­tic. lis­ten to You Need lov­ing, a re-work­ing of Wil­lie Dixon’s You Need love (cheek­ily cred­ited to mar­riott and lane) and you not only have the ob­vi­ous in­spi­ra­tion for led Zep­pelin’s Whole lotta love but a blue­print for the whole Zep­pelin sound: crash­ing en­er­getic drums, dis­torted e and D chords sounded over a low e pedal, and last but not least, mar­riott’s stunning vo­cal.

as a gui­tarist mar­riott was no slouch ei­ther. although The Small Faces’ pop sin­gles lacked so­los, their B-sides and al­bum tracks am­ply demon­strate his prow­ess. Songs such as e Too D, Grow Your Own, and the bom­bas­tic Own Up Time are ex­am­ples of how his heavy riff­ing style was way ahead of its time. The deeper you delve into the Small Faces ‘hid­den’ back cat­a­logue, the more you re­alise that this band de­fined the heavy blues-rock sound that would dom­i­nate the late 60s and early 70s scene.

Steve mar­riot quit the Small Faces in 1968 to form hum­ble Pie with Peter Framp­ton. When asked about his ap­proach for this new band by Disc & mu­sic echo mag­a­zine in 1971 he replied, "It's just what I used to do in '65, '66 only I like to think I'm bet­ter at it. I'm just a rock’n’roller, that's what I'm best at".

It's just what I used to do in ’65, ’66, only I like to think I'm bet­ter at it. I'm just a rock ’n ’roller, that's what I'm best at. Steve Mar­riott

Steve Mar­riot and Ron­nie Lane in full mod garb

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.